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A rash of unapproved flu products are being marketed on several websites as cures or preventatives and consumers need to beware, warns the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In total, to date, the agency has sent 10 warning letters to companies advising them that they have 15 days to fix the situation. The letters demand the companies cease deceptive labeling of products as flue remedies and to stop selling medicines marketed as a generic version of Tamiflu, a prescription flu medication.

The FDA is warning consumers that the danger extends past wasting money on fake products, says Gary Coody, a pharmacist with the FDA. “Unapproved antiviral meds can be counterfeit or contaminated. In past instances, products touted to be Tamiflu were found to be acetaminophen alone or penicillin derivatives – which can pose serious health issues.”

Also of concern are claims that these products can neutralize the flu or serve a flu shot replacement. Coody says, “These claims are outrageous, not to mention dangerous.”

The FDA has dealt with the marketing of fake flu therapies in the past. In 2009 the same thing occurred involving the avian flu and H1N1. The FDA will take any necessary actions to stop the marketing of fraudulent flu products.

A Closer Look at the Flu

In most cases the flu is non-life threatening, but it does kill anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 people each year in the U.S.

In most instances bed rest, acetaminophen and plenty of fluids is enough. In fact, using flu remedies on or WebMD can provide homeopathic ways to deal with the flu. But how do you know when you should seek medical attention? Below are a few telltale signs.

Call 911:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • If the patient has passed out or stopped breathing
  • Lips turn blue when the patient is not coughing

Visit the ER

  • Skin appears bluish
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Flu symptoms improve but come back with a worse cough and fever which can signal a secondary infection.
  • Sudden confusion and dizziness

The above is not an exhaustive list but a good start and applies to both children and adults. The CDC advises staying home at least 24 hours after the fever has broken, without the aid of medications.

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